España vs. Me: Round One

España has displaced my mind from my life and has put it inside of my history books and National Geographic Magazine issues that I praised as a child.

Throughout my first week in Spain, I was shown that no matter how ‘small’ she may be compared to the states or other European countries, the people and history of the Iberia Peninsula have stolen the empty spaces of my mind and have replaced them with all of her glories and wonders. Madrid became the city of maze-like buildings that trapped me, only to show me the history inside of each maze turn. Interestingly, the street names in Spain are placed on the sides of buildings, so I found myself looking up a lot and missing the sights of the streets below.

A memorial text for Cervantes, reading: To Don Miguel de Cervantes, on the fourth century of the publication of the first part of Don Quijote.
One of my favorite streets to get lost on: Calle de Cervantes

The first night I spent in Madrid left me puzzled and restless because I knew that I could not possibly learn a culture by its language or history alone.

As the night went on, my mind began to rest and the morning of our trip to Segovia awakened the adventure I did not think I could have on a study abroad trip.

One of my life-altering fears shattered: Heights

It is amazing to have encountered one of the most magnificent structures from the Roman times that is still standing and still being used today. I have spent years in history classes, reading and studying the use the Roman Aqueducts, but I have never imagined how intense their presence may be until I saw them for myself.

My first impression of the Aqueduct of Segovia: How is history alive in front of me?

Since they were built without any mortar, the thirty-six semi-circular arches blew me away. Ironically, I was almost afraid to climb the stairs and see the view from the top of them, but thankfully the history behind the entire structure gave me the confidence to take the climb.

My history book selfie.

The Plaza de España is one of my favorite outdoor descriptions of history that I have experienced thus far on our trip (besides the Mezquita and the beautiful town of Frigiliana). The plaza is in the Parque de Maria Luisa in Seville, Spain. It was built for an exposition is 1929 and is an example of Regionalism Architecture, meaning that it mixes elements of the Renaissance and the Moorish revival styles of Spanish architecture. Essentially, it’s a Neo- Mudéjar style.

View of the Plaza from the far right.

The half-circle complex contains four bridges representing the four kingdoms of Spain. Inside the semi-circle are tiled alcoves that represent each province of Spain. Out of the forty-eight alcoves, everyone has a relevant tableau and map that gives a representation of the history of that said province. This in an amazing and beautiful piece of tiled architecture because it not only gives a historical aspect of each province and the four kingdoms, but of how the culture and people reflect on each other.

Grace Englehart is a senior at the University of Missouri-Kansas City studying Creative Writing and Spanish. Grace is spending the summer term abroad with the faculty-led UMKC Spanish Program in Granada, Spain.

Student blog entries posted to the Roos Abroad Blog may not reflect the opinions and recommendations of UMKC Study Abroad and International Academic Programs. The blog is intended to give students a forum for free expression of thoughts and experiences abroad in a respectful space.

What’s in a name? A LOT!!!

Mientras he viajado por Iberia, he encontrado muchos nombres, más complejos que justo de la nacionalidad. Por supuesto, hay adjetivos como Portugués, Español, y Francés pero mis viajes por España me han aprendido mucho. España es un país muy regional – como los Estados Unidos. Se existen términos muy básicos para referir a alguien y de donde viene esa persona, como Estadounidense o Español; ellos son términos extensos que faltan una descripción verdadera. Creo que términos como ¨Nueva yorquino¨ o “Misurense” funcionen mejor para describir a alguien. Se describe mejor el personaje de la persona. ¡Vamos a mirar a unos pocos de los términos que he encontrado! (Por supuesto, las forms masculinas y femeninas)

While I’ve traveled through Iberia, I have found many names, more complex than just of nationality. Of course, there are adjectives like Portuguese, Spanish, and French but my travels through Spain have taught me a lot. Spain is a very regional country – like the USA. There are very basic terms to refer to someone and where they come, like American or Spanish; they are broad terms that lack a true description. I think that terms like “New Yorker” or “Missourian” work better to describe someone. The personality of the person is best described. Let’s look at a few of the terms that I’ve found! (Of course, the masculine and feminine forms)

Términos extensos / vast terms

  • Spanish – español, española (from Spain)
  • Portuguese – portugués, portuguesa (from Portugal)
  • French – francés, francesa (from France)
  • German – alemán, alemana (from Germany)
  • Italian – italiano, italiana (from Italy)

Nombres regionales / regional names

  • Castilian – castellano, castellana (from Castile)
  • Catalan – catalán, catalana (from Catalonia)
  • Basque – vasco, vasca (from Basque country)
  • Valencian – valenciano, valenciana (from Valencia)
    • [from the city Alicante – alicantino, alicantina <3]
  • Andalusian – andaluz, andaluza (from Andalusia)
  • Galician – gallego, gallega (from Galicia)

Me interesa saber por que algunos de estos términos (de rojo) faltan las vocales finales de las formas masculinas si todas las formas femeninas tienen las finales A’s. ¡Yo supongo que más estudios vengan!

I’m interested to know why some of these terms (in red) lack the final vowels in the masculine forms if all the feminine forms have the final A’s. I guess more studies are coming!

Hasta pronto / Until soon,

Natagnél / Nate

Feliz Julio / Happy July

Natagnél Frisella is a senior at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, studying Spanish Language & Literature. Natagnél is traveling through Spain this summer 2017, concluding with the UMKC Spanish Program based at the University of Granada in Southern Spain.

Student blog entries posted to the Roos Abroad Blog may not reflect the opinions and recommendations of UMKC Study Abroad and International Academic Programs. The blog is intended to give students a forum for free expression of thoughts and experiences abroad in a respectful space.

Tu eres de Italia?

Today was a big moment. I’ll get to it in a moment, but first I need to give some context.

For me, a skinny, tallish, blond haired, blue eyed, white kid. I scream American even when my mouth is closed. When people see me on the street, I’m sure they have no doubt where I’m from. No matter how much sun I get, I will always be American. I’m okay with that.

So off the bat I have very little chance being mistaken for a local, but let’s say I have a 10% chance of being from another European country. After I open my mouth and speak Spanish, that goes down to less than 1% due to my accent.

Well today was a milestone, because after speaking for a few minutes to the waiter at a restaurant (and yes more than just ordering…) he asked me the following: ‘Tu eres de Italia?’ Meaning – Are you from Italy?

I lit up with a huge smile. I replied with a grin, that no, I was from the United States.

The fact that after seeing me, and speaking with me in a town full of tourists, and he didn’t immediately know where I was from was a huge step in my Spanish. Not only that, but he thought that I could be from a country that speaks another Latin language, with similar phonetics.

I am certainly far from fluent, and most of my conversation is limited to the day to day common topics. However, even though I was nervous, and likely under-prepared, there is no better way to learn a language than to just dive in and drown for a little while. Because afterwards, whether you realize it or not, you never really come up for air, you just learn to breathe the water.

Learning a language isn’t really just a skill, you’re learning a new way to look at the world.


El accento

Everyone told me before I left that Spanish in Spain was different. It’s one thing the mentally understand something. For example, I knew that I would be overwhelmed when the time came to live in a household with no English. I knew that my Spanish was not as strong as I would have liked it to be. I knew all of these things going in – but nothing can prepare you for the emotions of truly understanding nothing that is being said around you.

I met my host brother, Carlos, next to a mall upon arrival in Granada. He had a warm smile, but the words he spoke to me sounded nothing like the semi-comprehensible lexicon that I was familiar with in my country. First of all, the people of Granada don’t pronounce the letter ‘s’. Anyone with even slight knowledge of the Spanish language will know that that is a crucial letter. It gives context. It is the difference between talking about you, or him, or her. It can be the difference between past tense, and present. It can even be the difference between something that you would like to happen. I wasn’t prepared to live a life without ‘s’.

I think it is funny how such a small thing could make you feel so insecure. Not only did it not allow me to understand anything that was being said to me, it also robbed me of my confidence to formulate my own expressions. For about  two days, all that I had in my arsenal was desperate semaphore messages that involved all parties using their entire bodies to communicate the most simple concepts. I wish I had a video crew with me to capture the hilarious skits that we had. It had to have looked like a very frustrated game of charades.

My bed became my best friend. I knew it was going to be tough mentally to be immersed in a new language, but it is truly draining. I slept a solid twelve hours the first day…although part of that may have me making a conscious decision to stay in my room due to dread of speaking to my new family.

Despite all of this, I believe there is no better way to learn. There is no other option. I’m happy to say that I am communicating nicely now. I’m far from fluent, but I have had several hour long or more conversations with my hosts and am starting to be able to discuss abstract thoughts in a less childish manner. I think this is the skydiving of learning, and that’s how I like it.


Hasta luego,